|Voice of the voiceful|
|Lest women catch up|
|Bros before hoes|
“”Ooh, are we negging? Let me try!
You look like you're going to spend your life having one epiphany after another, always thinking you've finally figured out what's holding you back, and how you can finally be productive and creative and turn your life around. But nothing will ever change. That cycle of mediocrity isn't due to some obstacle. It's who you are. The thing standing in the way of your dreams is that the person having them is you.
“”Pickup artists and garbage men should switch names.
|—Commenter from Hbomberguy video on Pick Up Artistry: A Measured Response|
Pick-up artists (PUA), also called the Seduction Community, are men (or, very rarely, women) who study to hopefully improve their success rate with women (or, rarely, men) in ways which are most often sleazy and sexist.[note 1] Pick-up artistry, often referred to as the "seduction community", has developed its own terms and lingo which members use with each other. The claims and goals of the subculture are often controversial, with criticisms ranging from those who think the subculture consists of tasteless assholes to those who are skeptical of the efficacy of their so-called techniques and think that their bed notches are not as notable as they brag about.
The PUA community likes to make various unproven claims, and there is notable influence from neuro-linguistic programming, self-help, pop evolutionary psychology, misapplication of game theory, and woo ideas (most notably those of Ross Jeffries). Typically in PUA literature, a model or protocol is prescribed as a one-size-fits-all method of generating attraction from the opposite sex, falsely assuming that complex human interaction has constant and unchanging "laws" that can be studied and thus exploited to the PUA's advantage.
Women are, in fact, human and therefore sapient predators with the ability to reason, plan, and contextualize behavior. Humans are also known for both A) having wildly differing personalities and behavior patterns, and B) retaliating for mistreatment (good advice is to always ask yourself how you would react if the opposite sex treated you the same way you treat them). These complexities are typically ignored by PUA advice, especially when being marketed commercially.
Many have accused the subculture of misogyny and objectification; others see it as no different from any other kind of flirting or attraction. What disgusts outside observers the most is their treatment of women as apparently stupid mentally-homogeneous robotic objects who owe men sex, who are ripe to be manipulated, used, tossed away, and laughed about with hi-fives afterwards.
The Game, braaah!
The Bible of the PUA crowd seems to be Neil Strauss's The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists — indeed, the book comes bound in leather with gold-leafed pages and a red silk ribbon. "Mystery", a PUA profiled in the book, claims "well-chosen props are a great way to focus a girl's attention on something else so she doesn't resist overt sexual moves." "Mystery's" "well-chosen props" often include giant fuzzy top hats, welding goggles, excessive eye-liner, and poet shirts. Some of "Mystery's" advice for breaking down "last-minute resistance (LMR)" is fairly indistinguishable from date rape, while other techniques such as a "freeze out" truly leave the choice up to the woman.
The narrative of Strauss's book is bipolar at best. Alongside the story of his evolution from self-loathing (but probably decent) human being to totally-awesome-stud-alpha-game-messiah is the contrasting tragic tear-jerking meltdown(s) of the lovable-douchey-attention-whore "Mystery". Though Strauss makes great effort to critique the vain emptiness of some aspects of the game culture and the transformation of nice goofy guys into slick lotharios, he behaves in almost the exact same way but paints his exploits in a radioactive awesome colour (because when the alpha-game-messiah does it it's all cool braaah). And so throughout the book Strauss gets to have it all ways (so to speak). He assures us he's a nice guy by denouncing the real scumbags and bitchy women (trashing specific friends and dishing embarrassing dirt on specific girls in the process), paints game-bros as multi-dimensional guys with complex personalities and fragile hearts, describes women as moronic fem-bots and/or bitchy catty witches, is totally a nice guy, lists his glorious herculean conquests, acts like a douchebag, reminds you he's really a nice guy and throughout tells a journalistic narrative in both the first and third person with heart, humour, and soul. By the end, the only unquestionably good lesson anyone should take from it is that having your cake and eating it too is very possible in autobiographical narratives. Also… it's good to have more confidence, be somewhat bolder, and have fun while dating. The negative lessons that most guys probably take from the book are too numerous to list here.
Common themes and techniques
Many PUA "techniques" are often simply means of emotional manipulation with others crossing into overt sexual harassment. Women whom the PUA wants to "score" with are referred to as "targets" who need to be "isolated", and often rated on their looks or desirability (e.g. on a 1 to 10 scale). Men who apply these techniques frequently and successfully, especially on more attractive women, are perceived to be "alpha"; everyone else is a "beta", an AFC (Average Frustrated Chump, brah), or finally, an "Omega" if they have no hope of finding a mate (worth noting that these terms actually originate from gay porn, a fact which PUAs generally seem completely oblivious to). A person who has given up on pursuing sex altogether is referred to as an Incel.
Another particularly manipulative technique is pouring on endless stimulating charm and then a departure expecting you to follow them to the next stage of the conquest with no avenue to ever contact them again. (The sequence tends to go: chat, separate from herd, schmooze, drink, walk, apartment, bed.) At any step, the guy is going there and you can come along if you want to, otherwise fuck off. The combination of pouring on overwhelming charm, attention, and stimulation and threatening to cut it off to compel them to continue when they aren't necessarily ready is particularly sociopathic. PUA brag about the effectiveness of this technique... because they likely don't have the patience, personality, empathy, or humanity to move onto the next stage with a partner when it's both clearly and mutually consensual.
One almost universal meme within the PUA community is the use of "negging," the "push/pull technique," or other variants on the old "treat them mean, keep them keen" cliché, in which the PUA uses strategic put-downs and minor insults to entice his prey by undermining her self-confidence and creating tension which he uses to his advantage. You know, like regular relationships.
So what are they like?
Pick-up artists tend to tell you a story of how they used to fail all the time with attracting women and thought they would never make it. But they discovered their formulas and techniques, and are now willing to share them with you… for a price!
The more honest ones will admit that it's a numbers game; PUAs have a higher success rate by virtue of prowling bars endlessly, or that the "information" they have acquired gives them a placebo effect that improves their confidence. Put simply, there is no "knowledge" a PUA could impart at a boot camp or in a DVD that you can't find online for free.
Many men get into pick-up due to social impairments, such as discomfort in normal conversation with people (not necessarily just women) and vice versa. While some unscrupulous purveyors of "game material" can take advantage of this, others genuinely want to see their peers improve and be more happy in their lives. Nevertheless, the community's resolutely anti-social worldview is unlikely to aid healthy communication, while the heavy emphasis on sexual conquests as a measure of social status is liable to reinforce these men's feelings of inadequacy.
There is also a small community of gay male pick-up artists.
Does it work/Is it a scam?
Anyone that denies the influence of looks, money, and status in sexual attraction is delusional, and everyone would agree that learning the social skills required for making meaningful connections, romantic or otherwise, is a valuable investment of time and energy. Pickup artistry, however, is by-and-large a scam to sell ebooks. Much of its information is from straight out of the basement; the rest is either common sense advice or social skills that many individuals just don't learn growing up. They also run many forums where prospective PUAs can share advice and anecdotal field reports. This is almost free validation for PUAs, since young men have been bragging about their made up sexual conquest since the beginning of time. "I f-closed a HB8 brah" is PUA forum speak for "I got a fake number for a HB2."
(In)famous pick-up artists
- Julien Blanc, a contender with Roosh V for title of the creepiest pickup artist — his dating advice includes "make threats to hurt [a woman]; make her drop charges; make her do illegal things; threaten to report her to welfare; prevent her from taking a job; take her money and humiliate her". Blanc was banned from Australia, Britain, and Singapore in November 2014.
- David Bond, after having a midlife crisis at the age of 27. Bond decided to quit his comfortable job and flew to Southeast Asia to live out his lifetime goal of sleeping with as many Asian women he can. He also has a YouTube channel.
- David DeAngelo a.k.a. Eban Pagan, an internet marketing expert who distilled a combination of age-old wisdom and internet posts from 1990s forums such as ASF into the successful eBook, Double Your Dating.
- Heartiste, formerly known as Roissy. Essentially mixes the absolute worst misogyny of the Seduction Community with evo psych woo and generous helpings of racism.
- Richard La Ruina a.k.a. Gambler, founded PUATraining. Released a mildly infamous pickup artist FMV "training game" under the title of Super Seducer in early March 2018. This was generally met with dismay, with criticisms of its bizarre humor, strange and uncomfortable scenarios, the unrealistic portrayal of women, and techniques that border on straight-up sexual harassment. Pretty much everything you'd typically expect from a game made by a pick-up artist. Definitely not a Poe. There's a sequel that's more of the same.[note 2] Although of note, there's literally an option to blow up a convention full of reviewers who criticized the first game, listing a few by name. He also announced a third, three days before the release of the second.
- Hayley Quinn, one of the few female PUAs, based in London
- Kezia Noble, another female PUA based in London who runs bootcamps and a '7 Day Mastery Course' that teaches the same thing as mystery, including manipulation and gaslighting as techniques. She used various different British newspapers with pictures of herself half naked as a means to lure in clients.
- Tucker Max, basically a D-celeb who rode Mystery's coattails.
- Roosh V, more-or-less a con artist (and a rapist) who rode Strauss' coattails. Incensed at Red Pill for publishing material without his input, he had a notorious falling out and now blasts them at every opportunity. (You might consider him the Thomas Edison of MRAs.) He has stopped using the term Red Pill and now has his own philosophy he calls "neomasculinity" which is basically just Red Pill cranked up to 11. Later found Jesus and cut ties with the PUA community, but still a raging misogynist.
- Mystery, a.k.a. Erik von Markovic, a failed magician from Canada whose PUA 'bootcamps' and mental breakdown formed the core story of Neil Strauss' bestselling book The Game.
- Neil Strauss, a mediocre music critic who wrote the bestselling book The Game, and has since recanted much of his advice in his most recent book, The Truth, in which he reveals he was in therapy for sex addiction.
- Good Looking Loser
- Matt Cross, a sociopathic scam artist that disables comments on his Youtube channel the 44 Secrets to becoming A Real Alpha Male, advocates "Chair game".
- Sasha Daygame, a failed comedian from Canada who, along with Yad from Daygame.com, invented an alternate method involving meeting women during the daytime, instead of in nightclubs or bars, creating a large daygame PUA scene in London.
- Tariq Nasheed a.k.a. King Flex, author of books such as The Art of Mackin', who focuses on PUA techniques within the African American community. He's also known for his borderline black supremacist views and his dismissal of most black women as traitorous "Negro bed wenches" who supposedly aspire only to bedding white men.
- Mark Zolo runs "Naughty Nomad," a self-described "travel blog for men," where he gives travel tips and what to expect from the "local girls".
- Owen Cook a.k.a. Tyler Durden, Leader of the now dissolved cult "Real Social Dynamics" (RSD).
- Adam Lyons
- Luke Krogh
- Jeffy Allen a.k.a. Jlaix
- Todd V
In a nutshell
- The men's rights movement: There is a partial overlap in fanbases (and a significant overlap in sexist fuckwittery).
- Manosphere glossary
- 2014 Isla Vista killings
- In all likelihood, a lot of their technique, like "peacocking" (dressing like a loony to get attention), is probably just cargo cult science.
- Despite claims that it was a "10x the budget", 10x0 = 0.
- Pick Up Artistry: A Measured Response. Hbomberguy on YouTube, 16 March 2017.
- Angelique Chrisafis, Ready, steady, flirt. The Guardian, 19 January 1999.
- Jane Ganahl, Ahead of the game / Rock scribe Neil Strauss became an unlikely master of seduction, and he's helping other shy guys do the same. sfgate.com, 25 September 2005.
- What does it take to get a date in this town? Archived from the original at sanfranmag.com, 2006.
- Confessions of a Playboy, Steve Almond, Los Angeles Times
- "Guys, I Just Totally Raped This Student Chick!", Dimi Reider, +972 mag
- If At First You Don't Succeed, Grope Her, Man boobz
- For example, "Negging Women – 10 Awesome Negs That Work"
- "Push/Pull" idiocy
- Lo and behold! An honest 'player'.
- Same site
- "Is Julien Blanc really the worst pickup artist?", The Telegraph, 17 November 2014
- US 'pick-up artist' Julien Blanc forced to leave Australia after visa cancelled
- 'Pick-up artist' Julien Blanc banned from entering Singapore
- David Bond on YouTube.
- Prepare to have your faith in civilization ruined.
- Harris O'Malley, I Played Super Seducer So You Don't Have To. kotaku.com, 9 March 2018.
- Allegra Frank, Pick-up artist game Super Seducer is as bad as it sounds. polygon.com, 6 March 2018.
- Kashmira Gander, Super Seducer: The 'Pick-Up Artist' Game Activists Describe As 'Absurdly Sexist'. Newsweek, 13 March 2018.
- He Kills ME In This (I'm Serious). ProJared Plays on YouTube, 12 September 2018.
- Alex Santa Maria, Super Seducer 3 Announced Three Days Before Super Seducer 2's Launch. techraptor.net, 10 September 2018.
- From Nothing to Everything – The Story of Hayley Quinn. lifehacks.io.
- Mystery, The Pick Up Artist, Cracked.com
- Ex-pickup artist reveals struggle with monogamy in "The Truth", cbsnews.com, 13 October 2015.
- Good Looking Loser is dead; long live GLL. Why Reddit only works for newbies. theredquest.wordpress.com, 4 April 2018.
- HOW TO SIT LIKE AN ALPHA MALE! [ 3 DOMINANT ALPHA MALE SEATING POSITIONS REVEALED!!! AlphaMaleSecrets on YouTube, 24 June 2014.
- Sasha Daygame, SashaPUA.com
- Mark Zolo, The Men’s Guide to Nepal (with video), naughtynomad.com, 6 November 2006.